Nobel Prize winner discusses his ‘green chemistry’

Sunday, January 29, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:46 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The discovery of a new chemical reaction led Robert Grubbs to a life changing career. It won him the Nobel Prize in chemistry and international recognition.

At the 12th annual Lloyd B. Thomas Lecture on Friday at MU, Grubbs, from California Institute of Technology, addressed a full house, discussing his research over the past three decades. Dubbed “green chemistry,” the process developed by Grubbs and fellow chemist Richard R. Schrock uses natural resources, giving it the edge over modern industrial production.

“It was a series of observations and a series of lucky breaks,” said Grubbs in describing how he developed the environment friendly production process.

Commercial interest has come from the pharmaceutical, agricultural and production industries.

Labs around the country working from Grubbs’ theories have developed natural methods to hinder the breeding cycle of insects . The military is interested in bullet-proofing its Humvees. Drug companies are developing new drugs for hepatitis C, migraines and osteoporosis using the Nobel laureates’ work.

From pharmaceuticals to sporting goods, Grubbs’ innovation — and its seemingly endless commercial potential — has allowed for efficient production without the environmental side-effects of other methods.

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